Rachael Shannon, artist
A few years ago I fell in love with Inflatable Sculpture. I didn’t see it coming, but, in retrospect, it made a lot of sense. I’m an artist whose passions have led me to engage with a variety of different media over time, including but not limited to costuming, sculptural ceramics, paint, performance, ritual, rock n roll, stage design and re-building my 1935 pier and beam house in Texas. I had uprooted my life in Texas for a new one in Baltimore to pursue an MFA in Community Arts.
The discovery of inflatable architecture connected patterning skills with spatial construction. I began to understand the process as ‘costuming air’, and appreciated it as a method of building that was adaptive to movement and a change of scenery, while maintaining a sense of place.
Inflatable architecture relies on a steady stream of air flowing through the body of the structure. In this way it is alive. It has anima, it has soul.
My first large inhabitable structures, the Breastival Vestibules (pictured above), attempted to create communal spaces that spoke to specific ways of expanding boundaries about how we interact with and experience our bodies (explore the Breastival Vestibule blog).
The Vestibules’ soft, rounded walls create a robust body, literally busting at its own seams, responsive to the pressure of touch, adapting to the forms that lean into and move around them. The structures are nomadic and inhabit a variety of locations, yet the sense of transformation upon entering these spaces is definitive, and offers an alternate way of experiencing oneself and others in whatever conference, festival, gallery, and dirty parking lot they pop up in. They act as a liminal space, between what is known and what can be imagined.
I have enjoyed leading others in the process of creating inflatable sculpture in workshops from Nicaragua to Newfoundland, with ages 6 through 65 (limited only by whoever shows up!).
On Sunday, October 25, explore Inflatable Architecture with Rachael Shannon. She will lead workshop participants in creating a collaborative inflatable space with a variety of easily found materials at the BMA’s Imagining Home Opening Celebration.
Hope to see you there! In the meantime, check out these links to some inspiring applications of inflatable architecture: